Ecuador Catholic bishops’ conference blasts high court decision decriminalizing euthanasia

Feb 16, 2024 | 0 comments

By Diego Lopez Marina

In a February 14 statement, the Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference expressed its “profound concern and disagreement” with the Constitutional Court’s February 7 decision to decriminalize euthanasia in the country.

Ecuador’s Catholic bishops criticized the Constitutional Court’s decision to allow assisted suicide in some medical cases.

“Human life is sacred and inviolable. Any complicity with death ends up being paid for by the weakest and most vulnerable. A society that does not defend them is condemned to the greatest manipulations and the worst tragedies. It is diabolical to want to defend life by giving a homicide a legal framework,” the bishops said.

The court ruled that Article 144 of the penal code that punishes those who cause or abet the death of a person suffering medical problems is constitutional but ruled that exceptions must be allowed for euthanasia under certain conditions.

According to the ruling, an exception is allowed for doctors who help patients to die when the patient requests euthanasia in a free and informed manner or through a representative if the patient cannot express himself or herself; and if the patient is suffering intensely due to a serious and irreversible injury or an incurable disease.

The bishops warned that the ruling “is vague” regarding the scope of the criteria because it does not specifically define application conditions and diseases.

“What is meant by these expressions must be specified,” they pointed out, “so as not to put the lives of vulnerable people at risk, such as, for example, psychiatric patients or patients with psychological disorders who would also be at risk. The saddest thing is that children are not spared either.”

Following the court’s decision, Ecuador became the ninth country in the world to accept euthanasia and the second in Latin America to decriminalize it. The next step, according to the ruling, is for euthanasia to be regulated by a law, which must be debated and passed by the National Assembly in the coming months.

In its statement, the bishops’ conference warned of the risk of a “throwaway culture” that is emerging, where the lives of the most vulnerable are threatened: “We are already at the beginning of a slippery slope whose deadly ways will never make a society greater.”
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Credit: Catholic News Agency

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